After a few seasons looking at the history and heritage of her immediate surroundings, Emily Smith is taking Lafayette 148 on a trip outside New York State lines and heading west, to Marfa, Texas. “I went in July to visit the Chinati foundation, and it was amazing, but what was more striking was the whole environment around it,” Smith recalled at the brand’s Brooklyn Navy Yard headquarters. “The drive from El Paso to Marfa itself, you go through a town that has a population of, like, 73 people. There’s a certain desolation, the landscape was so beautiful, the crumbling architecture; so all of that became the inspiration.” The collection is less about referencing Donald Judd’s art, and more about reproducing the mood of a place that’s intrinsically tied to the art and the people that live there.
A trench coat with a print that looked like oilslicks but was really tree branches reproduced via Cyanotype printing was made from a fabric with a metallic yarn woven through so “you can naturally make it as scrunched as you want.” A sense of playfulness has long been part of the experimental process that Smith and her team engage in as they develop new materials, though rarely has it manifested in the final product so directly. A metallic fabric with a velveteen finish was distressed and garment pleated to create dresses and separates with the “rugged” texture of concrete or maybe tree bark. Lafayette 148’s signature paper-thin leather was cut into squares and pieced together with a delicate eyelet, to form a boxy short sleeve button-down and matching pencil skirt; with their straight lines and negative space, they were the most direct reference to Judd’s work.
But it wasn’t just the novelty fabrics that held allure. A simple silk and linen blend blouse with a v-neck and a delicately blooming sleeve in a shade of marigold sand, a brown tailored short suit made from cotton poplin, and a sleeveless shift dress in a cotton twill with frayed seams were also appealing. “We didn’t want anything to feel too precious,” Smith said.“We were thinking about the desert and its absence of water, so we developed fabrics that are really able to quench that thirst for something.”